Trimurti – The Hindu Trinity

Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Trimurti

FROM p. 340-341 OF

Trimûrti (Sk.). Lit., “three faces”, or “triple form” – the Trinity. In the modern Pantheon these three persons are Brahmâ, the creator, Vishnu, the preserver, and Shiva, the destroyer. But this is an afterthought, as in the Vedas neither Brahmâ nor Shiva is known, and the Vedic trinity consists of Agni, Vâyu and Sûrya; or as the Nirukta explains it, the terrestrial fire, the atmospheric (or aërial), and the heavenly fire, since Agni is the god of fire, Vâyu of the air, and Sûrya is the sun.

As the Padma Purâna has it: “In the beginning, the great Vishnu, desirous of creating the whole world, became threefold: creator, preserver, destroyer. In order to produce this world, the Supreme Spirit emanated from the right side of his body, himself, as Brahmâ; then, in order to preserve the universe, he produced from the left side of his body Vishnu; and in order to destroy the world he produced from the middle of his body the eternal Shiva. Some worship Brahmâ, some Vishnu, others Shiva; but Vishnu, one yet threefold, creates, preserves, and destroys, therefore let the pious make no difference between the three.”

The fact is, that all the three “persons” of the Trimûrti are simply the three qualificative gunas or attributes of the universe of differentiated Spirit-Matter, self-formative, self-preserving and self-destroying, for purposes of regeneration and perfectibility.

This is the correct meaning; and it is shown in Brahmâ being made the personified embodiment of Rajoguna, the attribute or quality of activity, of desire for procreation, that desire owing to which the universe and everything in it is called into being. Vishnu is the embodied Sattvaguna, that property of preservation arising from quietude and restful enjoyment, which characterizes the intermediate period between the full growth and the beginning of decay; while Shiva, being embodied Tamoguna – which is the attribute of stagnancy and final decay – becomes of course the destroyer.

This is as highly philosophical under its mask of anthropomorphism, as it is unphilosophical and absurd to hold to and enforce on the world the dead letter of the original conception.

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